Host a Gorgeous Garden Luncheon with This Summery Menu

garden with dining area
Photo: Victoria Pearson

Summer is for relaxing. Suzanne Rheinstein entertains with a no-fuss attitude and simple yet chic results.

01 of 21

Making Gorgeous Happen

interior designer Suzanne Rheinstein
Victoria Pearson

Consider it her sixth sense—interior designer Suzanne Rheinstein just knows how to make gorgeous happen. A genius of decorative elegance and owner of the renowned West Hollywood decorating emporium Hollyhock (she recently locked its doors after 38 years), Suzanne has decades of design know-how that have prepared her to ply graciousness to any moment or event.

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Collected Garden Setting

garden with dining area
Victoria Pearson

For a relaxed lunch in the garden of her Hancock Park home, Suzanne welcomed friends to a table effortlessly set with pieces she's collected over time: vintage linen napkins, monogrammed silver flatware handed down from her great-grandmother, and 19th-century Napoli cabbage-leaf plates. Arranged on top of a floral linen fabric that she designed, the delicate tablescape sings with both ease and elegance.

Supporting the garden theme, linen "Garden Roses" fabric from Suzanne Rheinstein's collection for Lee Jofa drapes the table under her beloved weeping Chinese elm tree.

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Lovely Linens

Outdoor Entertaining with Suzanne Rheinstein
Victoria Pearson

Vintage linens are numerous in Suzanne's inventory of entertaining wares; quilted slipcovers were fabricated using old linen army sheets from the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, Paris' renowned flea market.

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Summer Classics

mingling guests with cocktails
Victoria Pearson

Such a delightful garden setting calls for a menu that's equally light and summery. Suzanne relied on dishes based on uncomplicated classics, such as a cocktail made extra-frothy with an egg white, crudités and dips, chilled braised leeks as a side dish, and a creamy custard-like posset for dessert. The dill- and lemon-scented brook trout main course is baked "en papillote," or in parchment paper.

Guests mingle in the warm light of summer, celebrating Suzanne's garden at the height of its glory.

05 of 21

Crudités Comeback

guests with individual crudites
Victoria Pearson

Individual crudités, served as a first course, are making a comeback. A garden setting is ideal for showcasing the freshest baby vegetables, perfectly punctuated by Suzanne's vintage Napoli cabbage-leaf plates.

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All Things Beautiful

Suzanne Rheinstein with guests
Victoria Pearson

"I've learned from a lifetime looking at paintings, drawings, and all things that are beautiful," Suzanne says. "I don't have rules. I use the things I love, and that makes a pretty situation every time."

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Festive Florals

white flowers and greens
Victoria Pearson

White flowers and greens mix for an uncomplicated arrangement.

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Refreshing Apértif

aperitif blended from three wines and ten spirits
Victoria Pearson

Jardesca is an apéritif blended from three wines and 10 botanical spirits.

09 of 21

Elegant Summer Menu

menu and shopping list
Victoria Pearson

Menu cards from Lobird depict topiary sculptures.

Suzanne Rheinstein's pretty luncheon setting inspired a menu based on those served at elegant summer homes in Montauk and Newport Beach during the famed Gilded Age of the late 19th century. The recipes incorporate master techniques popular in kitchens of days past—updated and made relevant for today. Try a velvety cocktail made with an egg white, delicate fish fillets cooked in parchment, and dessert that's a rich combination of heavy cream, sugar, and fruit juice. Recipes by Chef Mary Payne Moran of Hail Mary, Food of Grace.


  • Clover Club Cocktail
  • Fresh Market Crudités
  • Pumpernickel Bread
  • Brook Trout en Papillote
  • Cold Braised Leeks with Sauce Victor
  • Tart Cherry Posset
  • Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

Shopping List

We've organized a shopping list to make shopping for this party menu easier for you. Package sizes are included so you have enough for duplicated recipe ingredients.

Check your pantry for these necessary items before shopping:

Note: Unless specified, when we call for "butter" we mean the unsalted variety. When we call for "olive oil" we are suggesting good quality extra virgin. When we call for "eggs" we are suggesting large eggs. Unless specified, when we call for "milk" we mean whole-fat milk.

Amounts for cocktail recipe are increased to make eight cocktails.

  • Granulated sugar (need 1-1/4 cups)
  • Powdered sugar (need 3/4 cup)
  • All-purpose flour (need 3-1/2 to 4 cups)
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder (3 tablespoons)
  • Mayonnaise (need 1/2 cup)
  • Sour cream (need 1/2 cup)
  • Olive oil (need 1-1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons)
  • Honey (need 1/3 cup)
  • Unsalted butter (need 1-1/4 cups [2-1/2 sticks] plus one stick for serving with pumpernickel bread)
  • Vegetable oil (need 1-1/2 tablespoons)
  • Garlic cloves (need 4)
  • Kosher salt (need 3 teaspoons + to taste)
  • Sea salt (for garnish)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (need 3/4 teaspoon + to taste)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (need 1/4 teaspoon)
  • Vanilla extract (need 1 teaspoon)

Specialty grocery store

  • 1 package (four) Persian cucumbers
  • 6 ounces pitted green olives (from olive bar)
  • Baby vegetables for crudités (unless purchased from farmers market)
  • 1 (3-ounce) package speck or prosciutto
  • 1 (32-ounce) bottle tart cherry juice


  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 10 lemons (4 for juice for cocktails, 1 for zest, 1 for tapenade, 3 for fish, 1 for sauce)
  • 1 to 2 bunches fresh watercress
  • 8 small to medium leeks
  • 12 ounces green beans
  • 1 bunch fresh rosemary
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 1 bunch fresh dill weed
  • 1 bunch basil
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley
  • 1 bunch mint
  • Small head radicchio, endive, or Little Gem lettuces


  • 1 box precut parchment paper (cookie baking sheets) or 1 roll parchment paper
  • 1 small jar capers
  • 1 (32-ounce) container chicken stock
  • 1 (2-ounce) tin oil-packed anchovy fillets
  • 1 (10-ounce) jar maraschino cherries

Baking aisle

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • Rye flour (need 1-1/2 cups)
  • Whole wheat flour (need 1/2 cup)
  • Caraway seeds
  • Whole black peppercorns
  • 1 (2.75-ounce) package roasted salted pistachio nuts (or purchase from bulk aisle) (need 1/2 cup)

Fish monger

  • 8 fresh brook trout (preorder; ask fish monger to remove heads, halve, and fillet)

Dairy section

  • 1 carton pasteurized eggs or 1 (16-ounce) carton pasteurized liquid egg whites
  • 2 pints heavy cream


  • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle top-quality gin
  • 1 (375- or 750-milliliter) bottle Kirschwasser (Only 1 teaspoon is needed for recipe; however, this is a nice liqueur for holiday cocktails and the occasional fondue. Try Clear Creek Cherry Brandy, available online.)
10 of 21

Clover Club Cocktail

clover club cocktail
Victoria Pearson

The Clover Club is a velvety gin-based cocktail, shaken with an egg white. The drink debuted at the elegant Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia as the cocktail of choice for a writers salon of the same name.

The addition of an egg white to the cocktail mixture is the master technique used. The egg white acts as an emulsifier, resulting in a foamy head and smooth, rich mouthfeel.

Prep: 10 minutes

  • 14 fresh raspberries
  • 4 slices peeled Persian cucumber (reserve peel for garnish)
  • 1-1/2 ounces Simple Syrup*
  • 3 ounces gin
  • 2 pasteurized egg whites or 1/4 cup pasteurized liquid egg whites
  • 1-1/2 ounces lemon juice
  • Ice

In blender, combine 10 raspberries, cucumber slices, and Simple Syrup. Cover; blend until smooth.

In cocktail shaker combine half of raspberry mixture, 1-1/2 ounces gin, 1 egg white, and 3/4 ounce lemon juice. Cover; shake without ice (dry shaken) until mixture no longer sounds sloshy (pressure will build). Add ice. Shake until very cold.

Strain into cocktail glass. Thread 2 raspberries and a sliver of rolled cucumber peel onto pick for garnish. Repeat for second drink. Makes 2 servings.

*Tip: For Simple Syrup, in screw-top jar combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water. Screw on lid; shake well until sugar is dissolved.

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Fresh Market Crudités

fresh market crudites on lettuce plates
Victoria Pearson

Crudités are a delightful, fresh way to start a summer lunch. Served as an appetizer or as a first course, crudités were popular in the early 20th century because of their simplicity and colorful composition, characteristics that have made them popular again today. James Beard called them "the most appetizing dish imaginable."

Scour the farmers market for fresh, just-harvested baby veggies. The carrots, snap peas, tomatoes, radishes, and broccoli suggested here are starting points to lovely crudités. Look for tiny vegetables with greens still attached and resist the urge to do anything more than clean them properly. The flavor and beauty are heightened by their natural state. Serve slices of speck or prosciutto on the side, if desired.

Hands On: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes including chilling time

Watercress Dip:

  • 2 cups watercress
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Green Olive and Rosemary Tapenade:

  • 6 ounces pitted green olives (1-1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons capers (rinsed)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons snipped fresh rosemary

Fresh Market Crudités (Purchase whatever is freshest in the market):

  • 8 radishes, halved
  • 8 Little Gem lettuce leaves, washed and separated
  • 8 baby heirloom carrots, cleaned
  • 24 snap peas, cleaned
  • 3 small heirloom tomatoes, cut in 4 wedges each
  • 8 small bite-size colorful cauliflower florets
  • 16 small radicchio, endive, or Little Gem leaves (for sauce cups)
  • 16 slices speck or prosciutto (optional)
  • Pumpernickel Bread and creamery butter

For Watercress Dip, in food processor combine watercress, mayonnaise, sour cream, and lemon zest. Blend until mostly smooth. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving.

For Green Olive and Rosemary Tapenade, in food processor or blender, combine pitted green olives, olive oil, capers, lemon juice, garlic, and pepper. Cover and pulse until chunky paste forms. Transfer tapenade to serving dish; stir in rosemary. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving.

For Fresh Market Crudités, arrange 8 plates with market vegetables and speck (if using). On each plate, use two small radicchio leaves as cups for Watercress Dip and Green Olive and Rosemary Tapenade. Serve with Pumpernickel Bread and creamery butter. Makes 8 servings.

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Pumpernickel Bread

pumpernickel bread in basket
Victoria Pearson

Dense, tangy, and sweet, pumpernickel bread is a hearty accompaniment to the crunchy freshness of crudités. Spread the bread with a shmear of the best butter, sprinkle with thyme and a flaky sea salt (such as Malden), then top with a delicately smoked slice of German speck.

The bread loaf baker from Emile Henry is fashioned from glazed Burgundian clay. Its shape and construction mimic the humidity conditions of a traditional bread oven, resulting in a dry, crispy crust and soft inside.

Prep: 20 minutes

Rise: 2 hours 15 minutes

Bake: 50 minutes to 1 hour at 375°F

  • 1-1/4 cups warm water (105°F to 115°F)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups rye flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Unsalted butter, softened
  • Fresh thyme leaves
  • Sea salt

In large bowl combine warm water, honey, oil, and yeast, stirring to dissolve yeast. Let stand 10 minutes.

Add 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, rye flour, whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, caraway seeds, and kosher salt. Stir with wooden spoon until combined.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining all-purpose flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (8 to 10 minutes total). Place in lightly greased bowl that is at least double the size of dough, turning to coat surface. Cover; let rise in warm place until double in size (1 to 1-1/2 hours).

Punch down dough. Let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile, grease 9-inch loaf pan. Shape dough into loaf. Place in prepared pan. Lightly sift additional all-purpose flour over dough. Using sharp knife, make shallow slashes in top of loaf. Cover; let rise in warm place until nearly double in size (about 45 minutes).

Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake loaf 50 to 60 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in center of loaf registers 190°F to 200°F. Remove bread from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Serve with butter sprinkled with thyme and sea salt. Makes 12 servings.

Note: You may need to trim the "knobs" on the bottom of the loaf that result from the holes in the baker.

13 of 21

Brook Trout en Papillote

brook trout en papillote on lettuce plate
Victoria Pearson

Summer luncheons served on the patios and verandas of grand, turn-of-the-20th-century houses relied on a combination of cold dishes and unfussy preparation. Fish fillets, such as trout, salmon, or cod, were seasoned and wrapped in parchment paper. After gently steaming in the oven, they were served alongside a cold vegetable side dish.

Placing the seasoned fish inside folded parchment paper is a master technique called "en Papillote." We've simplified the method with an easy folding technique and—surprise!—paper clips.

Baked in parchment paper to delicate fork-tenderness, this brook trout is served with green beans and pistachios.

Hands On: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

  • 8 sheets precut parchment paper (cookie baking sheets) or 8 (14-inch) squares of parchment paper
  • 12 ounces green beans, trimmed
  • 8 fresh brook trout, heads and spines removed, split into fillets (16 fillets total)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 24 lemon slices
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill weed sprigs
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted pistachio nuts

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place parchment on work surface. Fold parchment in half crosswise. Crease parchment at fold; then unfold.

In large saucepan, cook beans 3 minutes in enough boiling water to cover; drain.

Recipe continues on next slide

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How to Make Trout en Papillote

brook trout en papillote step one
Victoria Pearson

Sprinkle each fillet with salt and pepper. Place one trout fillet, skin side down, lengthwise above center fold of parchment. Top with 3 lemon slices and dill weed. Top with second fillet, skin side up. Top fish with green beans. Dot with butter.

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Fold the Parchment Paper

brook trout en papillote step two
Victoria Pearson

Fold over bottom side of parchment 1-inch. Fold over top side 1-1/2-inches. Fold bottom parchment over fish. Fold top parchment over bottom.

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Secure the Folds

brook trout en papillote step three
Victoria Pearson

Fold in 1/2-inch on each open end and fold again. Secure with paper clips or staples.

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Set Aside on Baking Sheet

brook trout en papillote step four
Victoria Pearson

Place packet on extra-large baking sheet. Repeat with remaining fish.

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Finishing Touches

brook trout en papillote step five
Victoria Pearson

Bake 15 to 17 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with fork.

Remove fish from oven; open packets. Transfer fish and green beans to serving plates with large spatula. Turn top fillet flesh side up. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with pistachios. Serve with Cold Braised Leeks with Sauce Victor. Makes 8 servings.

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Cold Braised Leeks with Sauce Victor

cold braised leeks with sauce victor
Victoria Pearson

Cold Braised Leeks are dressed with a classic Sauce Victor, a refreshing combination of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes.

Sauce Victor was the 1904 creation of chef Victor Hirtzler for the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. Here, it is used as both a marinade and dressing.

Braised vegetables, served cold, were classic side dishes on formal summer luncheon menus of the Gilded Age. Fennel, celery, leeks, and cipollini onions are all great candidates for this method and the delightfully bright and herbaceous sauce.

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 15 minutes

Stand: 30 minutes

Marinate: 2 hours

Braised Leeks:

  • Parchment paper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 small to medium leeks, rinsed, trimmed, and halved lengthwise
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • One recipe Sauce Victor
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
  • Sea salt or fleur de sel

Sauce Victor:

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 10 canned oil-packed anchovy fillets, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For Cold Braised Leeks, in 12-inch high-sided skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add leeks, cut side down. Cook 5 minutes or until browned. Turn leeks over. Add chicken stock, chopped basil, peppercorns, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring liquid to boil; reduce heat to simmer. Cover leeks with parchment paper*. Simmer 15 minutes or until leeks are just tender.

Remove leeks from liquid; discard liquid. Drain leeks on wire rack placed on a baking sheet until all liquid is gone. Place leeks in 3-quart baking dish. Cover with Sauce Victor. Marinate in refrigerator 2 hours.

To serve, remove leeks from sauce and place on serving platter. Garnish leeks with parsley, sliced basil, and kosher salt. Transfer remaining Sauce Victor to serving bowl. Serve with chilled leeks.

For Sauce Victor, whisk together all ingredients, seasoning with salt and pepper. Let stand 30 minutes. Makes 8 servings.

*Tip: Before cooking, trace around pan lid on parchment paper and cut out a round big enough to fit just inside pan. If there is no lid, tear a square of parchment just larger than the pan. Fold in eighths. Trim outside edge so that when unfolded, it will be a circle.

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Tart Cherry Posset

tart cherry posset
Victoria Pearson

Possets are quite old—and old-fashioned. Originally an English boiled drink of milk mixed with wine and ale, the first known recipes date to 14th- and 15th-century cookery manuals. Today, it is a creamy dessert that is slightly sturdier than a mousse. The dessert has three ingredients and is simple to prepare ahead and store. If you like, substitute 1/2 cup lemon juice and 2 ounces Gran Marnier for the cherry juice.

A surprising garnish swiped from the cocktail cart brightens up the presentation: chopped maraschino cherries tossed with mint.

Prep: 30 minutes

Chill: 2 hours to 24 hours

  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup tart cherry juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries
  • Torn fresh mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Kirschwasser (cherry brandy) (optional)

In 5- to 6-quart pot combine cream and granulated sugar. Bring just to boiling, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to simmer. Cook, uncovered, 10 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat. Stir in cherry juice. Pour posset into 8 to ten 3- to 5-ounce glasses or serving dishes. Let cool. Cover with plastic wrap. Chill 4 to 24 hours or until set.

In a small bowl, toss maraschino cherries with mint and Kirschwasser. Cover; chill until serving.

To serve, top posset with cherries and mint. Serve with Rosemary Shortbread Cookies. Makes 8 servings.

Note: Chill any remaining posset up to 3 days.

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Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

rosemary shortbread cookies
Victoria Pearson

Guests take home shortbread cookies with hints of rosemary and sea salt. Rosemary adds an herbaceous note to these simple cookies.

Prep: 20 minutes

Chill: 2 hours

Bake: 15 minutes at 325°F

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 to 4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

For cookies, in large bowl beat butter with mixer on medium to high speed 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar, rosemary, and salt. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Beat in flour on low speed until mixture starts to cling together (may appear crumbly but will come together with continued beating). Shape dough into two 9-inch logs. Wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 2 to 24 hours or until firm enough to slice.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Slice dough 1/2 inch thick and place slices 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 15 to 17 minutes or just until edges start to brown. Remove; cool on wire racks. Makes 40 cookies.

Note: Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month.

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